The Devereux Early Childhood Assessment Program (DECA) is designed to enhance within-child protective factors, while simultaneously decreasing behavioral concerns in young children. It is a strength-based system that identifies and strengthens children’s protective factors and promotes resilience in children ages two to five. The DECA includes an assessment tool that involves a standardized, norm-referenced behavior rating scale. Both the standard and clinical forms of the DECA have been developed as part of a program to focus on protective factors, as well as risks, and thereby provide early childhood professionals with empirically sound tools for assessing the strength of protective factors and the severity of behavioral concerns in preschoolers.
This program has been implemented in many communities throughout Ohio as part of the Ohio Department of Mental Health (OhioMHAS) Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative and is used in most counties in some early childhood settings. In addition, the DECA is used by all ECMH consultants whenever they provide child-specific consultation services. A DECA is to be completed for each child for whom a child specific consultation was requested. Many of the ECMH professionals and the settings they work with have been using the DECA in the early childhood setting as a universal prevention/early intervention program.
To facilitate the collection of statewide data, Devereux and Kaplan have worked with Ohio in tailoring the data collected through the eDECA system to create reports that will inform both local communities as well as state entities. Now we have the capability to capture data on every participating program using the DECA to get a statewide picture of the protective factors and behavioral concerns of thousands of young children. As part of this initiative, OhioMHAS has paid for an administrative license for each mental health board and a certain number of child administrations based upon the number of child-specific consultations.